Climate Change’s Link to Decreasing Honey Bee Populations

Honey bee populations have decreased from “5 million in the 1940s to only 2.5 million in 2014 in the United States” ( USDA) .  Human-induced CO2 emissions could have affected the honey bee populations. Honey bees are major pollinators for plants, hence they are vital for our agricultural system. An example of this dependence is Californian farmers bringing in colonies of bees to keep crops alive through pollination. Plants and bees have co-evolved together, so bees know when to pollinate flowering plants.  The major issue is that scientists do not know the environmental and genetic triggers that cue plant and pollinators to have synchronicity. Meaning temperatures have increased due to global warming, warmer temperatures have caused plants to flower earlier in the season than bees have been ready for.

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Another outcome from global warming’s increased temperatures is that it has changes in migration patterns, which results in native plant’s lacking pollination. Another issue is that bees have been laying their eggs earlier in the season because of increased temperatures from climate change. Bees lay their eggs when temperatures are warm enough outside and require a constant temperature of 93 degrees for their eggs to survive. However, since they are laying their eggs earlier in the season there is a greater chance for cold days.  These cold snaps have resulted in all the eggs in a nest dying, causing the future populations of bees to be stunted. (Earth Observatory). For example, bee keepers have seen a 30-90% population decline in winter. These cold snaps have resulted in all the eggs in a nest dying, causing the future populations of bees to be stunted.  The decline of bee populations can be observed in weighing the nests. The nests indicate the bee’s health and their health has declined seen from the decreased weight.  Although the effect of climate change on honey bee populations is still relatively speculatively, these points have shown that changing climate could have negative consequences on bee populations.   Fortunately the United States has set up an $8 million fund for the preservation of honey bees.

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